Apple Strudel - The Huxley

The Huxley

29th April 2017 12.30pm

www.thehuxley.co.uk

We popped in here for lunch after seeing a push on social media (particularly their brunch it seems). Saturday meant it was busy but not in an overcrowded way. The Huxley offers a relatively standard menu which includs burgers, hot dogs, nachos, salads etc. All prices are fairly reasonable. I went for the naked dog – a hot dog without toppings, with the exception of onions. My friend chose the Philly Cheesesteak in the aim of eradicating the awful memories from Wildwood.

When the food arrived, it looked a little disappointing. My hotdog looked ok but the fries looked a little lacklustre. My friend’s cheesesteak looked a little lonely on the large plate (admittedly my friend forgot to order a side of fries). Even the accompanying slaw couldn’t do much to save either dish. Anyway, tucking in, my hot dog was actually pretty good. The sausage had really good flavour, smoky but not overpowering. The bun was ok and the onions were nice, although not with enough caramelised flavour for my liking. The slaw was crunchy and not too creamy. The fries were sufficient but were a touch limp. On the other side of the table, my dining companion was relieved to report that the cheesesteak was definitely better than the one from Wildwood. The filling was generous. However, she found the brioche bun a little too sweet.

As I had already spied an apple strudel on the dessert menu, I knew it was my destiny. My friend decided to have the trio of ice cream. When she ordered, it became apparent there was a choice but the waitress has to check. The choices were orange, ginger or wild berries. My friend thought they were odd choices but picked orange. Upon arrival, my strudel looked more like two spring rolls. The custard was a small pool in the bottom of the bowl. I could see that the strudel in this form could be stood up in the custard, allowing the pastry to still be crisp in places. The filling was tasty, with the apple not too sweet and the sultanas plump and luscious. I would have liked a little more custard as it was very good. Across from me, my friend was a little perplexed. Although the ice cream was creamy, it really had little perceptible orange flavour, which was a shame. The chocolate shard was pleasant enough. I did notice afterwards whilst writing this review and looking back at the photos that the menu does say a trio of ice creams and sorbet. However, there were not three scoops. I think the menu needs to be more clear that it is one scoop from a choice of three.

I think I enjoyed my meal more than my dining partner enjoyed hers. However, with other good eateries in the vicinity, this might not be my first choice to return to.

Food – 7/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe but it would not my top pick

Cost £18 with an introductory 20%off for signing up to their mailing list. Full price around £24 for two mains and two desserts.

Pork Bun Combo Meal - Ninja Kitchen

Ninja Kitchen

24th January 2017 6pm

http://ninjakitchenedin.com/

Itison vouchers come in handy during January. We had purchased one for Ninja Kitchen in December so were pleased to get to use it in what can be a ‘poor’ month. Ninja Kitchen can be found in Bourbon on Frederick Street and is situated in a basement. This place has a relaxed feel. Our table was reserved so we got seated and started pouring over the options we had in the deal, which included a combo meal and a cocktail each. All orders for food are filled in on a little paper order form. We were advised by our server that the beef was out and that as the meals are on the smaller side we might want to consider adding some additional plates. We were disappointed that the beef was off as one of us would have definitely chosen it. However the combo meal allows for a steamed bun, fries and a slaw. I went for the pork bun with salted fries and peanut slaw. My friend decided to try the fish finger steamed bun with chilli-garlic fries and an Asian slaw. We also got some additional chicken skewers and ordered our cocktails. There were some interesting other flavour options (such as wasabi-orange fries) which we didn’t go for this time but are certainly intriguing.

The combo meals arrived in a basket, with the bun and fries and a little dish of the slaw balanced on top. The buns were nice. The steamed buns were wonderfully soft. However, I think the pork was a little dry with not enough hoisin for my liking but the pickle was crunchy and the peanut dust was tasty. This complemented the peanut slaw I chose, which was sublime and I could have eaten a massive bowlful of it. The fries were also of an excellent quality. On the other side of the table the fish finger bun was a surprise hit. She had ordered it as she thought it was worth trying something that felt a little random. The chilli-garlic fries had a good kick and afterburn but were delicious. The slaw was also good. The chicken skewers were moist and tasty but it was difficult to use the dip with the skewers.

We went for the deep fried bun with ice cream for dessert. I actually opted for a coconut and lime sorbet rather than an ice cream, and my friend went for a chilli chocolate ice cream. The deep fried buns were quite sugary but nice; my friend likening them to yum yums. The sorbet and ice cream were both excellent. With good, intense flavours.

The service in Ninja Kitchen, whilst friendly, was a bit slow. However, the food was good and we enjoyed the experience. We even got a bourbon biscuit with our bill. Recommended for lunch or a bite to eat with drinks in the evening.

Food – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7.5/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 30.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, I think so.

Cost £15 for the deal (usually £30) plus £15 for the chicken plus the two desserts.

S'Mores - Refinery

The Refinery

13th January 2017 6pm

http://drakeandmorgan.co.uk/the-refinery-st-andrew-square/

A friend and I dropped in here on a Friday night. The Refinery was busy but we were able to get a table in the ground floor. In a way this was a shame as first floor feels more like a dining space and the ground floor more like a ba). We got stuck into the cocktail menu immediately with a Candy Shop Sour and A Fine Pear. Both were very good. We then moved onto food. I ordered a cheeseburger with a side of cowboy fries (fries coated in honey, chilli and garlic). My dining companion went for the vegetarian option of the Thai coconut curry with a side of fries.

The food came incredibly quickly. My burger was substantial in size, kept together by a skewer. It was thoughtful to have the pickle on the side as I didn’t fancy it that evening so I didn’t need to salvage it from the burger. The mean was juicy enough but I ate it almost without noticing the cheese. The honey, chilli and garlic coating was lovely on the chips but the chips themselves seemed to be lacking something and weren’t really fluffy inside. On the other side of the table, the curry was perfunctory but wasn’t providing any wows. The rice and curry were served separately which was good. This course just didn’t seem to make much impact.

We ordered more cocktails which again were great. This time it was a S’mores and a Porn Star Martini. We decided that we could fit in desserts. I chose chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and my friend picked the pecan tart. The brownie came with a gooey sauce you could pour on yourself, which was a nice touch. The brownie was sadly a bit dry, maybe from being heated up but the ice cream was tasty. The pecan tart was enjoyed but at the same time was at the very sweet end of desserts.

All in all we felt a bit uninspired by the food but the drinks were excellent.

Food – 6.5/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 28.5/40

Would I eat here again? Probably not but I would definitely come for drinks

Cost £73 for two starters, mains and sides and desserts plus four cocktails.

Brisket Flatbread - Empress

Empress

1st December 2016 5.45pm

www.facebook.com/theempressedinburgh

Newly opened on Broughton Street from the owners of Jeremiah Tap, the Empress has opened on the site of the old Mathers bar. The menu is relatively varied, with burgers, flatbreads and salads. Unfortunately we were informed anything with salmon, venison and squid was off, which was a shame as I had been eyeing up dishes with these in but I guess they are the fresh elements where availability could vary. In the end, we went for the Scotch bon bons, buffalo hot wings and Empress ribs for starters and for main, two of us went for the brisket flatbread (I went for a large as I am a pig) and the last of the three of us went for a twisted fire starter burger. On top of this we decided to get an extra side of paprika halloumi fries to share. We also got our first round of very delicious cocktails in.

Wings, Ribs and Bon Bons - Empress

Wings, Ribs and Bon Bons – Empress

We waited a little while for our starters but they were worth the wait. The bon bons had a lovely flavour, being a mix of haggis and black pudding, which seemed to give them a more substantial taste. The accompanying chilli and whisky jam complemented well. The buffalo hot wings had a really tasty hot sauce on them and had a decent amount of meat on the bones. I’m not a fan of blue cheese so avoided the dip but my dining companions raved about it, saying it was almost like a blue cheese béchamel. A massive thumbs up for this. The ribs had a nice barbecue glaze and were still juicy.

Again, we waited a while until the food came out of the kitchen. The flatbreads looked and smelt amazing. Tucking in, we weren’t disappointed. The meat was great and plentiful. The crispy onions added a wonderful textural element. The barbecue sauce and the mozzarella topped it off nicely. The only downside was that the bottom of the flatbread was perhaps a touch over (but then I’m not a huge fan of charcoal flavours). The burger also was going down well. Accompanied by a slaw and fries, this was generous portion. The paprika halloumi fries were definitely the hit of the meal though. I really couldn’t get enough of them and I think I’d order a smaller plate of food so I could eat more of them!

As long as you are not in a hurry, this is a nice place to go.

Food – 8.5/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8.5/10

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Definitely

Cost £92 for three starters, three mains, one side, five cocktails and a mini bottle of prosecco.

Badger & Co

Badger & Co

22nd November 2016 7pm

www.badgerandco.com

Badger & Co

Badger and Co

Badger & Co is situated on Castle Street on the former home of Kenneth Grahame of Wind in the Willows fame (hence the name and quirky animal related décor). I had already visited a couple of times for drinks but this time we popped along to try out the food. The menu had plenty of options that were tempting and in the end I went for grilled scallop and apple black pudding followed by crispy Parmesan gnocchi. My dining partner went for chicken and chorizo croquettes followed by curried battered haddock and chips. Whilst waiting for the food I sipped on a delicious cocktail whilst my friend had a lovely glass of red wine.

The starters arrived and we tucked in. I have to say these were some of the best cooked scallops I have ever had. The flavour was spot on and worked with the black pudding. The tomato confit, peppers and spring onion salad kept the dish light and fresh. I was seriously impressed. On the other side of the table, my friend was also happily munching on her croquettes. She had expected them to be a bit dry but they were incredibly moist and the watercress, roasted garlic and herb aioli was really good, albeit in a slightly short supply. A great course.

Onto the mains. My gnocchi looked good but when I cut into it, it didn’t appear to be gnocchi as I know it. It seemed to be more like a cross between sautéed potatoes and chip ends. It was still really tasty but not what I expected. The gnocchi came with pumpkin, chestnut and rocket pesto. They were good in both texture and flavour. My dining companion was given a massive piece of fish. She said that you could really taste the curry flavour in the batter which was good. The batter was a little thick in places though which wasn’t for her. The chips were excellent, as was the mustard tartare. She’s not a big fan of peas but thought the crushed peas were fine.

We had just enough room for dessert, so I went with the mango and lime parfait and my friend chose the upside down apple pie. On arrival my parfait didn’t look much but the flavour was delicious and the texture creamy. It came with a pineapple and chilli salsa. The chilli wasn’t overpowering at all and just added a subtle warmth. A couple of wafers added further texture. A very satisfying dessert. My friend’s apple pie wasn’t much to look at either but tasted great. It was a cross between a tarte tatin and an apple pie with. She enjoyed the dish, including the toffee sauce and ice cream.

Overall, we enjoyed the meal, although their real strength seems to be their starters.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere- 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, the starters are worth it.

Cost – the food was complimentary but would have cost £52 plus a further £14 for drinks.

Please note that whilst this meal was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Lauren from Crimson Edge PR for inviting me.

Club Sandwich - Quay 84

Quay 84

14th November 2016 6pm

https://en-gb.facebook.com/quay84edinburgh/

Another itison voucher brought us to Quay 84 in Leith. It was a bit quiet when we arrived – perfectly understandable early Monday evening, but it started to fill up a bit not long after we started eating. Although I imagine Quay 84 is primarily for drinks, there is still a nice little dining section with booths that we were directed to. The voucher entitled us to two courses and a cocktail each.

Quay 84

Quay 84

Quay 84 has a reasonable cocktail menu priced at the Edinburgh going rate. No cheap bargains here (although it certainly was with the voucher). The menu is short but sweet, with plenty to please everyone. We were informed the beef teriyaki wasn’t in the deal and the ricotta meatballs were sold out but even with that, there was enough to tempt. I went for coconut breaded king prawns to start followed by a steak sandwich and fries. My friend opted for haggis bites followed by a club sandwich.

When the starters were brought to our table, my prawn dish looked just the right size. Four juicy prawns with a side salad. I couldn’t really taste the coconut but that didn’t really take anything away from the dish. The side salad was nice but perhaps a little overrun with raw onion. On the other side of the table, the haggis ‘bites’ were more like haggis chunks and were very massive for a starter. That being said, she thoroughly enjoyed them.

The mains arrived and continued on the generous portion theme. My steak sandwich had plenty of meat in it, along with some onions. My friend had ordered the club sandwich mainly due to her intrigue over the inclusion of an egg. She was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. She did need to eat it with a knife and fork as it was so big and sadly the tray it arrived in wasn’t conducive to that. Both sandwiches came with fries. It was a shame they had been pre-salted but I still gobbled them all up. Neither of us cleared our plates though as we had to admit defeat.

You will never go hungry at Quay 84. Worth popping in for a visit.

Food – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere- 7/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, if I was passing.

Cost – voucher £22 for two course meal and cocktail for two. True value closer to £46.

Southpour

10th June 2016 5.45pm

www.southpour.co.uk

I used to frequent this establishment when it was the Reverie, so was intrigued to see what had become of the place in new hands. I found it completely transformed on the inside. It almost had a New York warehouse apartment type feel, with lots of exposed brickwork, but it still had a warm feel.

Southpour

Southpour

Southpour has a nice, varied but not overly extensive menu (which is a good thing). We ordered a couple of cocktails which were lovely and then I chose one of the specials as a starter – chicken liver pate, followed by a chicken, leek and n’duja sausage pie with fries. My friend went for scotch egg for her starter followed by the same pie as me.

The starters arrived promptly and were simply presented but that somehow made them look even more tasty. My pate was wrapped with what was either Parma ham or prosciutto around its edge, which I’d never seen before. This was served with a red onion chutney, a handful of mini oatcakes and a small side salad. The pate was incredibly smooth and worked very well with the chutney. The salad was dressed really well which was a nice surprise. A decent start to the meal. On the other side of the table the scotch egg was being enjoyed. She particularly noted that the n’duja sausage had an excellent level of flavour. The only downside was that whilst she really liked the accompanying side salad, the dressing clashed a little with the scotch egg.

We had both ordered the same main and we were a little startled at the size of the pie as it seemed somewhat  gigantic on arrival. However, it was just a big puff pastry topping rather than a fully encased pie and a smaller amount of filling inside, so it was certainly more like the portion size we were expecting. The pie was excellent with beautiful flavours, moist chicken and a nice kick from the n’duja. The side of tender stem broccoli was beautifully seasoned. The fries weren’t fries but incredibly chunky chips, which was a little disappointing but they were nice enough.

Chicken pie - Southpour

Chicken pie – Southpour

Southpour offers a solid offering in pleasant surroundings.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall -32/40

Would I eat here again? Most likely

Cost £38 for two starters, mains and cocktails. We did have 25% voucher off food so true cost closer to £47